What is Nonprofit Marketing?

Nonprofit marketing is the process of promoting your organization’s mission and message. While nonprofit marketing may differ from for-profit business marketing in certain specific executions, a similar general approach should be used to maximize the effectiveness of any marketing campaign. This strategic approach to nonprofit marketing should focus on the nonprofit organization and its mission, any other nonprofit groups that may be offering similar or competing services, and especially on the various audiences that the nonprofit is trying to reach. This three-pronged approach to nonprofit marketing will help ensure that your organization is able to maximize its ability to generate proper brand awareness and raise enough funds to fulfill its mission to the greatest possible extent.

Your nonprofit marketing strategy should begin by looking internally at your organization. Think about your organization’s mission and value proposition, how you serve the community, and crucially, how you wish your organization to be perceived and thought of. Taking time to really think about your organization’s reason for being will help guide the branding portion of your nonprofit marketing strategy. You will want to make sure that your brand–including your logo, colors, fonts, and messaging–supports your organization’s mission and helps you to connect with the appropriate audiences. In the nonprofit world, building emotional connections with your audience is especially important, as many people choose to support and interact with a nonprofit not because of product features and benefits, but because of how they feel about the organization and the work it does in the community.

The next step in developing your nonprofit marketing plan is to think about other nonprofits that are focused on the same or a similar mission or are vying to attract the support of the same audience of donors. While you may not label these other nonprofit organizations as ‘competitors’, since they are also committed to improving lives in your community, you do nonetheless need to be aware of and think critically about how to best define and position your organization to the public. There may be slight but distinct differences in who the organizations serve, or how they go about fulfilling their mission. These points of differentiation are things that you will want to point out in your nonprofit marketing efforts. In some cases there may be no substantive differences between the organizations; if such a situation should arise for your non profit, it will be important to make sure that your organization is doing the most effective job of promotion to make sure that those in need of your services turn to you, and that donors and volunteers pledge their support to you rather than another non profit organization.

Finally, your nonprofit marketing must address the needs of each of your organization’s target audiences, or user personas. For example, your nonprofit might have a need to speak to those people you are seeking to help, as well as to potential donors and volunteers. You may further wish to delineate high net worth donors from your overall donor pool, and to also market to both corporate giving and planned giving programs. The exact messaging that resonates with each of these user types will likely vary in substance and tone, and you need to be sure that your nonprofit marketing campaigns properly addresses the needs of each to ensure maximum effectiveness.   

Why is Non Profit Marketing Important?

Nonprofit marketing is important because, since most organizations have limited staff and budget, it is critical that every dollar put toward marketing outreach be well spent. You need to define goals and objectives for your marketing campaign and track and measure results to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. Working with a dedicated marketing agency partner that is experienced in nonprofit marketing is a great way to ensure results. An agency partner will help you improve both marketing efficiency and impact so that you can focus on fulfilling your organization’s mission.

Incorporating digital into your nonprofit marketing plans is also important because digital media plays such a central role in people’s lives. Your organization needs a well-organized, visually appealing website that showcases your commitment to serving your mission, as well as providing the necessary functionality and security to elicit online donations. Including content marketing assets such as high-quality photography, videos, and success stories that highlight how you’ve been able to help are all great ways to build connections with your various user personas and target audiences. You should also incorporate proactive digital marketing solutions such as social media marketing and email marketing into your efforts, as these help build brand awareness and keep your organization top of mind. These types of marketing tactics help ensure that potential donors choose to support your organization over others–particularly those donors who have only so much money to give.

Digital should lead your nonprofit marketing efforts because the cost of both print and direct mail continues to increase, while at the same time the effectiveness of both of these types of traditional marketing continues to decrease. Again, effective nonprofit marketing is about establishing emotional connections, and this means promoting your organization to people where they choose to spend their time. Increasingly, this is online. Be sure that you have a comprehensive digital marketing plan in place to achieve your marketing objectives. Investing in a quality website, and working with an agency partner to create amazing content including email newsletters, social media posts and ads, videos and blog posts, will help your nonprofit most efficiently promote and fulfill its mission to support your community.